A Dutch study has revealed that eating half a handful of nuts every day could substantially lower the risk of early death.

The study, conducted by researchers from Maastricht University  found a 23% lower chance of death during the 10-year study in people eating at least 0.01kg of nuts or peanuts a day.

There was however no benefit for peanut butter which is high in salt and trans fats.

For the study, 120,000 Dutch 55-to-69-year-old men and women provided dietary and lifestyle information in 1986, and then their mortality rate was looked at 10 years later.

Nut consumers had a lower case of premature mortality risk due to cancer, diabetes, respiratory and neurodegenerative diseases.

Study lead, Prof Piet van den Brandt said "it was remarkable that substantially lower mortality was already observed at consumption levels of 15g of nuts or peanuts on average per day."

Prof Van den Brandt told BBC researchers had taken into account the mitigating factor that nut consumers ate more fruit and vegetables and that women who ate nuts were often leaner, and adjusted the results accordingly.